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Yet this realization comes to Don Quixote as part of his journey, which is how age and experience also presents itself to any individual -- in a gradual, subtle manner that is learned with the passing of time. Therefore, it is accurate to state that Don Quixote's wisdom is a result of the experience he gains in his travels, both of which are linear components of time. The knowledge that he has acquired -- that there are indeed inns -- aids him later on in the novel when he passes a night at another inn. What the knight has learned from experience helps him to eventually overcome his madness, and occurs with the natural marching of time that can best be measured as aging.
In much the same way that the inexorable passing of time cannot be reversed, the wisdom that Don Quixote eventually accumulates due to his experiences throughout the duration of Cervantes' novel is irreversible as well. Therefore, once the knight has gained enough experience and wisdom so that he is able to overcome the previous condition of madness that had enthralled him, he would never return to it. This fact is demonstrated quite dramatically at the conclusion of Don Quixote, in which the former knight is administering his will. It is highly significant that he has given his worldly possession to his niece, only on the condition that if "she should see fit to marry, it shall be to a man who does not know what books of chivalry are" (Cervantes 699), and that if she does not adhere to this mandate she will be swiftly relieved of what Don Quixote has left her. This clause in Don Quixote's will illustrates the wisdom he has learned with age and the experience of the error of his former ways. However, the following quotation shows the reader that even when prompted by his best of friends to return to his previous ways of madness, the indelible wisdom acquired through experience will not allow Don Quixote to do so. This quotation occurs right after Don Quixote has dismissed the suggestion that he return to his previous ways of a knight-errant.
Amazed at his words, they gazed at one another in some perplexity, yet they could not but believe him. One of the signs that led them to think he was dying was this quick return from madness to sanity and all the additional things he had to say, so well reasoned and well put and so becoming in a Christian that none of them could any longer doubt that he was in full possession of his faculties (Cervantes 697).
This quotation illustrates the fact that Don Quixote's madness had indeed dispersed, and was replaced by a soundness of mind attributed to the "full possession" of his wits. This return to sanity was but the natural progression of the experience which the former knight gained throughout his travels. It is an effect of the time it took Don Quixote to acquire this experience, which blossomed into an irreplaceable wisdom that allows him to fully dispel any notions of insanity. The passing of time required for such wisdom to be complied is largely known as aging.
The novel Don Quixote has successfully demonstrated that within it, much as is the case within life in general, there does indeed appear to be a firm connection between aging and the obtaining of wisdom. In Don Quixote, the means to attain wisdom is experience, which can be life altering. Experience comes with living life, in virtually any capacity, so long as one is prudent enough to learn from mistakes and bear in mind what lessons were previously learned. Don Quixote is able to do so; he learns the difference between an inn and a castle; he internalizes this knowledge and uses it later on in his travels, and eventually is able to accumulate enough cognizance of modern existence that he is able to overcome what was an extremely entertaining and prolonged sense of madness. However, the inexorable and irreversible nature of such wisdom belies the fact that it comes at the pace of which time passes and life is lived. To that extent, the connection between age and wisdom is really one of experience, and living life with prudence, and attaining wisdom. Life itself will provide the experiences that account for wisdom. Everyone ages, but if they do so while recollecting the lessons they have learned before they can certainly acquire a wisdom that is befitting one who has lived a lengthy period of time. However, this novel certainly indicates that aging does not lead to decline and madness. Don Quixote's madness never stemmed from aging, but simply from a desire to help people -- most of all himself -- by a fanciful perception of the world that was decidedly romantic. Yet no matter how romantic or fanciful the knight chose to view the world, he could not get away from the natural process of aging, the passing of time, and the inherent wisdom proffered by this process -- but only to those who are prudent enough to benefit from it, which Don…[continue]
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